Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

An evidence-based initiative to increase use of own mother’s milk in a NICU: the impact of COVID-19

This article describes a quality improvement approach to increase the use of own mother’s milk (OMM) during the first 14 days of life for infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit of a neonatal tertiary centre in Portugal. The project coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, providing an opportunity to assess the impact of COVID-19 on lactation practices and OMM doses.

Catarina Garcia

Tânia Marques

Leonor Antunes
Nurse Specialist in Child Health

Sónia Semião
Chief of Nursing (Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit)

Rosalina Barroso
Head of NICU

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Hospital Fernando Fonseca, Amadora, Portugal

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breastfeeding; coronavirus; human breast milk; preterm; quality improvement
Key points
  1. Quality improvement practices can increase the dose of OMM use in neonatal care units.
  2. Motivated and trained staff and increased availability of hospital-grade electric breast pumps can increase early, frequent and effective breast milk expression practices in the NICU.
  3. Measures aimed at reducing COVID-19 transmission had an unintended negative impact on OMM use in the NICU.

Also published in Infant:

Breastfeeding very low birthweight infants in Brazil: a successful experience
Breastfeeding has multiple benefits for all infants, including very low birthweight infants. Mothers face many difficulties when initiating and maintaining milk production throughout hospitalisation yet our experiences show that it is possible to maintain milk production, even over long stays, and that most preterm babies can be breastfed at discharge.